By Gene Wolf, NJ chapter of SCORE, Chairman of Monmouth
After 40 years of working in the business world, advising business owners just comes naturally to Gene Wolf, chair of Monmouth SCORE. Gene recently took part in a panel hosted by The Asbury Park Press, Thinking Big for Your Small Business. The panel gathered local Monmouth County business owners and thought leaders to answer questions about succeeding in small business. (Click here for the top ten tips from the panel.)
Monmouth SCORE is a volunteer organization that offers business-related services to people in all areas of business. Services include assistance in writing business plans, seeking financial backing, creating marketing plans, and much more.
To get your small business started, Gene has some advice for getting you on the right track by thinking big.
- Be Passionate.
How many of you have ever had a job that you liked? How many of you have had a job that you didn’t like? Now, which one was better? This idea applies to going into business as well. “If you don’t have the passion for that business, then don’t do it,” Gene suggests.
- Be Organized.
Gene advises small business owners to be organized in their personal lives as well as their business lives. Part of that business organization includes a well-organized business plan. This plan serves two very important purposes. First, it creates a roadmap to the future for the business, as well as documents all the milestones your business has been through. Second, a well-organized business plan provides essential information for businesses when seeking financial backing, whether it’s from a bank, crowdfunding, or a friend or family member. Financiers will need to know the background of the business as well as where it is headed before investing.
- Be a Marketer.
Whether it’s using traditional marketing tools like direct mail, print media, or word of mouth, or using new marketing resources such as social media, small business owners must make their brand visible. Gene suggests a good strategy for small businesses may be using a combination of these. “Every industry is different and has its own set of guidelines,” Gene says.
- Showcase Success
For small businesses, it is important to look different from your competitors. Gene suggests a good way to do this is to showcase successful accounts. These success stories should serve as a reference and act as a credibility boost for the business. Showcasing a local business you have served is a way for your public to gain confidence in your business and your services.
- Avoid Undercapitalizing
When you are seeking to finance your business, it is critical that you avoid under capitalizing, Gene says. Whether you’re seeking money from a bank, crowdfunding, or a friend or family member, it’s important that you plan for having enough resources to carry yourself over your start-up operation costs. “Your financiers want you to succeed, and if you don’t seek enough money you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice,” Gene says. He suggests looking at your cash flow and making sure it is solid enough to carry your business through a recession, weather-related dips in business, or major events like Superstorm Sandy.
Gene also offers up some questions for small business owners to ask themselves when thinking about.
- Do you truly understand your market?
- Do you recognize the needs of your market? Are you staying ahead of those needs?
- Do you understand the demographics of your community, including the finances of your community?
- Do you understand your competition? Are you learning from your competition?
- Do you understand your cash flow projections? Are you prioritizing where you plan to spend your cash?
Do you need help answering these questions? Are you a small business owner who is ready to take your company to the next level but don’t know where to start? Monmouth SCORE can help. Visit their website at www.monmouth.score.org for more information and a list of services available.
Gene Wolf currently serves as the Chairman of Monmouth, NJ chapter of SCORE. Gene has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry with many years in senior management. A native of New York City, Gene started his technology sales career as a territory salesman and moved his way up through the sales organization to regional, national and international management positions. With an extensive hands-on management style, Gene became President/CEO of Controlware, Inc., Radvision, Inc. Ridgeway Systems, Pixion, Quintum, and Ezenia. Leading organizations from start-up to $100 million, Gene is comfortable in growing organizations, raising funding, designing and implementing exit strategies, negotiating OEM arrangements, structuring reseller/distribution networks, running P&L, etc. Through Royal Consulting, LLC., Gene has been advising and consulting small companies in general management and business development services.